Ashfaq Ahmed shines again as UAE complete Twenty20 series whitewash over Netherlands

Batsman averaged 52 in 4-0 triumph over the Dutch

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - March 20, 2019: UAE's Ashfaq Ahmed bats during the game between UAE and Surrey. Wednesday the 20th of March 2019 ICC cricket academy, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Ashfaq Ahmed capped a week of personal triumph as he guided UAE to a Twenty20 international series whitewash of the Netherlands.

Much like his side, the opening batsman had headed to Europe on the back of some indifferent form leading up to the four-match series against the Dutch.

The national team had struggled in the 2018-19 season, with Ashfaq posting a string of single-figure scores at the top of the order, too.

He made a joke of that form, though, with three half-centuries, culminating in a blistering innings of 75 that clinched a seven-wicket win in the final match in The Hague on Thursday.

His 210-run haul, at an average of 52.50, was comfortably the best over anyone on either side across the series.

Just to emphasise his domination, he even made a valuable contribution with the ball in the last match.

Despite only rarely bowling his off-spin for the UAE in past, he played a key role in the five-man attack – of which, quirkily, every player had “Ahmed” in their name.

Ashfaq’s figures of one for 20 from his four overs were the most miserly of any of the bowlers, as the tourists restricted Netherlands to 150 for six from their 20 overs.

Sultan Ahmed took two for 29 opening the bowling with his left-arm spin, while fellow left-armer Ahmed Raza was typically thrifty as he took two for 23 from his four overs.

His innings then underpinned the run-chase, even if he did depart just before victory was achieved.

It was left to Ghulam Shabber, the UAE wicketkeeper, to carry the side across the line. He made 58 not out, as the win was sealed in the final over.

The resounding series win represents a significant pick-me-up for the UAE ahead of important tests to follow in the format later in the year.

The UAE host the T20 World Cup Qualifier from October 11, a tournament that carries with it six places at the main event in 2020 in Australia.

The national team have played at the World T20 just once before, in 2014 in Bangladesh.